Moto Guzzi Nevada (June 2001)
The latest offering from Moto Guzzi sees the Nevada making a comeback in Australia (the old Nevada was discontinued in 1997), with the new machine boasting better brakes, headlight, exhaust system and carburettors
The Club is an up-specced version of the base model Nevada (which isn’t available in Oz), and comes with gear rack and pillion backrest, crash bars, one-piece seat and extra colour choices of Pearl White, Pearl Red and Pearl Blue (the base model only comes in black).
I’d never sampled the older machine, but have sampled several of Guzzi’s litre-class California cruisers, namely the EV, Special and the Jackal. To compare the Nevada to its bigger brothers is easy; it’s basically a California with a bit less poke, but is lighter and easier to manage.
The guzzi enigma
I have to admit that after the first few kilometres had been racked up on the near new machine (picked up with just 68km on the clock!), I was thinking maybe the burning backside, cracking wrists and stiff necks encouraged by the sportsbikes wasn’t so bad – and herein lies the mysterious Moto Guzzi enigma.
I can’t explain why it’s so, it just is – I’ve never hopped on a Guzzi and instantly liked it. In fact every Guzzi I’ve ridden I’ve instantly disliked, but then – slowly but surely – an inexplicable sense of pleasure springs out of riding these machines.
You can’t determine a point when this paradigm shift takes place, and it’s virtually impossible to put into words why it occurs, but the fact remains. I think this intangible sense of enjoyment goes a long way to explaining why Guzzi folk are as passionate as they are about their chosen mount.
From the change in my feelings about the bike after spending a few hundred km aboard one, I can’t imagine the level of attachment you’d experience after spending years on one!
This change of heart has been part and parcel of every other Guzzi I’ve got my grubby mitts on, and the Nevada was no different. A big part of this attachment can, I believe, be traced back to the Nevada’s powerplant, a transverse-mounted, 744cc, air-cooled, four-stroke 90-degree V-twin, fed by twin 30mm Dell’Orto carburettors.
This donk pumps out a maximum of 48ps (at 6200rpm) and 6.1kg-m of torque (at 3200rpm), and provides a pleasant level of urge for the machine’s intended use, even when two-up.
The unit revs willingly and spins up to its 8000rpm redline in the majority of its five gears, but most of your time will be spent within the bike’s chunky mid range, between 3000rpm and 6000rpm.
There’s responsive power available from as low as 2000rpm, and enhancing the machine’s abilities in the easy cruising stakes are the revs it pulls at 100kmh in top gear – just 3500rpm.
Like all Guzzis, the Nevada does have significant muted vibes, but they’re not a problem. Your hands and feet can feel them – especially under hard acceleration – but the vibes never caused any unpleasant tingles. In fact I’d even be tempted to scratch the word vibrations totally; it’s more like a pulsing, and is one of the points which can be linked to that change that comes over you after you’ve put in some time aboard the thing.
What starts out as a vibration when you first ride it away from the shop turns into a pleasant characteristic down the track, a nuance instrinsically Guzzi.
The gearbox operation also falls into this category. Once on the go it works really well, but try snicking the thing into first at the lights and you’ll be there all day – until you give the throttle a blip and allow the dogs to mesh properly. On any other machine it would be an annoyance, but after a couple of days I found I allowed for the foible without thinking – it’s just one of those Guzzi idiosyncrasies.
Physically, the machine is bound to please those on the smaller side. With a low seat height of 775mm, claimed dry weight of 182kg and a generous steering lock, this is one machine which is ultimately very manageable, whether it be in heavy traffic or pushing around your garage.
The Nevada was a little too small for my 190cm, and I found that a ride position which would be upright for those a little shorter saw me leaning back a little in the saddle.
The suspension does its job well, and is fairly stiff for a cruiser, the air-assisted telescopic forks and preload/rebound adjustable twin rear shocks providing a competent but relatively harsh package when it comes to isolating the bumps.
On the subject of isolating the bumps, the Nevada’s seat also scored well. It’s quite plush and comfy, and the pillion’s sizeable pad is complemented by a backrest.
A little more power and feel in the braking department would have been nice up the front. The twin-piston Brembo down the back was good, but the dual twin-piston Grimecas up the front felt a bit wooden and spongy.
The whole plot still pulls up well enough when Fido decides it’s ‘goodbye cruel world’ time though.
Once on the move the Nevada tracks beautifully through the bends, a pleasing V-twin burble rumbling from its twin chrome pipes. It’s actually got quite a decent amount of ground clearance, and is nimble enough too, the bike boasting a 1482mm wheelbase.
Then there’s all the smaller bits and pieces that go with owning a Nevada. When the sun goes down the headlight – one of the items upgraded from the last model seen in Oz – throws out a good, strong beam of light. The mirrors stick out a fair way but are mounted quite high, thereby generally not usually a problem when splitting traffic, unless you come upon a 4WD.
They give an unobscured view to the rear, but do blur a little.
The horn is more like a car’s horn than a standard bike’s, and all the usual idiot lights are there, albeit styled in a fashion you might say is a little antiquated – tricky to read in full sunlight too.
There’s an ignition cutout linked to the sidestand – annoying unless you don’t mind popping the thing on its centrestand (fold out grabhandle provided) every time you wish to warm it up – yet strangely you can still start the thing even if it’s still in gear. Another point here – you have to mind your foot when hooking that sidestand stub, lest the sole of your boot leave a molten streak on the left-hand pipe.
There’s a small rack provided behind the pillion backrest for carrying luggage, which has (along with stacks of other components) copped a liberal coating of chrome. In fact, given a sunny day, the Nevada is dazzling, the chrome setting off the deep lustre of the quality paintwork nicely.
For the tourers, Moto Guzzi offers lockable hard panniers ($1049.00) and topbox ($663.35) or leather panniers ($1218.72) and leather topbox ($771.34), a screen kit ($236.03) and a tankbag ($420.92).
Give it a go
At $11,500 (plus ORC), I can say to those looking around the burgeoning middleweight cruiser market (which includes bikes such as Honda’s $10,500 VT750, Kawasaki’s $11,090 Vulcan 800 Classic, Suzuki’s $10,000 VZ800 Marauder, Triumph’s $12,990 Legend TT and Yamaha’s $10,482 XVS650 DragStar) to try and wrangle the keys out of the dealer’s hands for as long as possible when you book a Nevada testride. Given half a chance, you too could discover that Moto Guzzi magic.
Story: Rod Chapman
Photos: Stuart Grant (with thanks to the Elwood Lounge)
Published. Monday, 4 June 2001
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